*Shakes Head Thinking ‘She Doesn’t LOOK Disabled….’*

So I realize most of those of us with chronic illness are probably more or less “stuck” inside or to the close proximity of our homes. I just wanted to share a little anecdote I was just thinking about that demonstrates how very true it is that “you NEVER know what others are going through.”

The last time I was at Wegmans (a grocery store here, for those of you from other parts of the country or from other countries without Wegmans) they had “implemented” a “social distancing” protocol as far as the lines go. That is to say, to protect the cashiers (more or less) and, to some degree, the customers, there is a line actually physically located on the floor in front of each register line and a sign that tells people to step back from said line until instructed to “enter.” This allows the cashiers to clean the belt, paying, and bagging areas after each customer. Although it does very little to rectify the chaos and numbers of people in the stores, it does, as I mentioned, protect the employees to a greater degree, and I have to commend Wegmans for putting these types of measures in place (as well as shutting down the deli, and most prepared foods / bakery departments – you can buy boxes of baked goods which you must use paper to touch and you can buy refrigerated prepared foods, but there is NO food just “out” in the open air (no single bagels or muffins, for instance)).

Also at Wegmans, they have designated “handicapped” lines which I try to use as frequently as I can (under any conditions) just because when I am shopping and I need to reach into the cart, I have to do so from the side and I cannot “bend” my spine with my back brace on, so I have to do a full bend / “golfer’s leg” maneuver to get items out from my cart. However, especially in this “situation,” I ALWAYS wear a coat inside the store so that I have a layer I can remove promptly when I leave and then disinfect when I get home. If you look at me, you might notice I look kind of “bulky” in the coat (if you haven’t seen a covered back brace even on a very tiny person, they do make you look kind of like a tree trunk), but you cannot tell that I have a full back brace on that runs literally down to my tailbone and up to my cervical spine.

I mention this because when Wegmans first implemented this “social distancing” protocol, I was trying to get in line and saw that the “Handicapped” line was shorter and I was PSYCHED because it meant 1. I could actually USE the handicapped line without having to push the cart forward and grab items out and then push it backward to put them on the belt and repeat and repeat and repeat and 2. I didn’t have to wait quite as long. HOWEVER, next to me, the “non-handicapped” lane had a very long line. As I got into line I said aloud “YES!” because I had just been in the store far too long for my comfort and I also really wanted to get back ASAP – and this would be, as I mentioned above, faster for everyone else as well since I wouldn’t have to move myself and the cart every time I had to remove an item from my cart. THE MAN IN THE LINE NEXT TO ME GAVE ME ONE OF THE DIRTIEST LOOKS I HAVE EVER GOTTEN AND HE LOOKED AT ME AND SHOOK HIS HEAD. Like “that dumb b!tch, she’s happy she doesn’t have to wait in line but she shouldn’t be in THAT line anyway!” He even turned around to the customer behind him and nodded his head at me while mumbling something to the other person that I could not hear. Whatever it was, the whole “interaction” came across as very rude – just as rude as I assume he thought I was being for standing in said line.

But, as I elaborated on many times above, me utilizing the handicapped line saves me and everyone else TIME – something which, in the crazy environment we are in right now, is kind of important. If I did not have an immune deficiency and if I were not immunosuppressed, I would have unzipped my coat and adjusted the velcro loudly on my back brace. However, given the circumstances, I try VERY hard not to touch anything on my body while having touched items others have touched.

What I am getting at with all of this is this – you do not want to be the ignorant man shaking his head at a girl who has suffered her entire life and then suffered for the treatment that has saved her life, her organs, and her vision but destroyed her bones causing such severe osteoporosis that surgery is not an option because any surgical “cement” or fusion or pins, etc., would create an area of “hardness” that is HARDER than my bones are, thus basically setting me up for limitless further fractures up and down my spine and into other bones. It is an instance of what I have said here and elsewhere so frequently – YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH. Do not judge others just based on how they seem to appear to you. Try not to take too personally the nastiness or grumpiness of others because if it is taken out on you, it very likely has absolutely NOTHING to do with you.

And that is my spiel for the day. At least for now! I really pray you are all staying well and doing well in this crazy time. Please know you are all always in my thoughts and prayers (honestly whether I know you or not!) and I really hope we can all pull through this as unscathed as possible. It is a scary time, no doubt. If you ever need someone to talk to or who will just listen (I am, believe it or not, a good listener as well!), I am here! And I will sign off by saying I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day or night wherever you are in the world and I will try to be back SOON SOON SOON!

❤ Always, Beth


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